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2019 2000 Guineas tips – Ante-post preview and two tips for flat racing’s first Classic

A view across the Rowley Mile as Saxon Warrior wins the 2018 2000 Guineas.

Our expert takes an in-depth look through the ante-post betting for the first Classic of the season and highlights two horses for punters to side with at Newmarket on Saturday 4th May.

Lincoln day may mark the official opening of the new flat racing season in Britain, but for many racing fans and casual punters, it’s Guineas weekend that truly signifies the end to the National Hunt campaign and all eyes will turn to Newmarket on the first Saturday in May. 

The 2000 Guineas was first staged on the Rowley Mile way back in 1809 and some of the fastest flat racers the sport has ever produced have claim Classic glory in this historic contest. Gay Crusader, Nijinsky, Sea The Stars, Camelot and Frankel adorn the honours boards at flat racing HQ and a talented field of colts will enter the stalls ahead of the 2019 renewal of this fabled Classic next month.

Our expert has taken a look through the vast list of entries for the 2019 2000 Guineas, grouping the top contenders into six categories, before highlighting two horses to back in the ante-post betting.

2019 2000 Guineas Preview

Best Of British

Too Darn Hot had sat happily atop the betting for the first British Classic for much of the off-season, with many predicting a victory in the 2000 Guineas would simply be a walk in the park. Sadly, for John Gosden, Frankie Dettori and owner, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Too Darn Hot picked up a knock during preparations for his intended reappearance in the Greenham Stakes and the former favourite has been forced out of the Guineas.

This omission has blown the 2000 Guineas betting wide-open, leaving William Haggas' Skardu (13/2 William Hill) as the highest-placed British entrant in the current market. James Doyle gave this son of Shamardal an excellent ride in the Craven, striking late to preserve his unbeaten record. Skardu's odds were subsequently slashed in the Guineas betting and there's obviously plenty more improvement left to come. Whether this year's renewal of the Craven was as strong as the one won by Masar 12 months ago, I highly doubt, but Skardu has to be in with a shout.

Royal Marine (7/1 Ladbrokes) was backed into favouritism for the Craven, as Saeed Bin Suroor's charge looked to bounce back from a disappointing outing in Dubai. Christophe Soumillon found himself boxed in on the inside rail for much of the trip and, while Royal Marine picked up nicely after finding some racing room, the favourite could finish no better than fourth. Despite that convincing loss, punters have been keen to back Royal Marine in the Guineas over recent days and last year's Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner will surely come on from the run.

A few days before Skardu claimed victory in an important Guineas Trial, Mohaather (9/1 Betfair)  enforce his Classic credentials with a hard-fought triumph in the Greenham Stakes. Marcus Tregoning's charge took a little while to get rolling that day, but Mohaather readily asserted himself to beat Great Scot by half-a-length and stepping up to a mile will only bring about improvement.

Top Irish Raiders

Aidan O’Brien will, once again, carry the hopes of the Irish into the first British Classic of the season and Ten Sovereigns (7/2 William Hill) is the one who has replaced Too Darn Hot at the head of the market. The No Nay Never colt romped to two comfortable victories over six-furlongs at the Curragh. The favourite was then made to work a little harder than many expected in the Middle Park Stakes, but Ten Sovereigns eventually got the job done to seal his first Group One on the Rowley Mile.

Magna Grecia (5/1 Betfair) has also experienced the unique undulations of the Rowley Mile, coming up just a neck short of Persian King in an excellent renewal of the Autumn Stakes. O’Brien’s colt then followed in the footsteps of former stablemate and last year's Guineas king, Saxon Warrior, by narrowly outstaying a strong field in the Vertem Futurity Trophy. establishing himself as a Classic contender in 2019.

A ninth-place finish at the Breeders’ Cup was an underwhelming way to end 2018 for Anthony Van Dyck (20/1 Unibet). O’Brien’s charge had little chance of contending at Churchill Downs after copping a horrible wide draw and punters shouldn’t forget the performances he registered in Europe – winning a big prize at the Curragh before placing in two prestigious Group Ones.

Likely To Miss Out

Quorto was sitting closest to Too Darn Hot at the head of the Guineas betting at the end of last season, having impressed with victories in the Superlative Stakes and the National Stakes at the Curragh. Sadly, Charlie Appleby informed the public earlier in the year that his star colt had suffered a setback and it’s unlikely we will see Quorto return until the second half of the season.

Persian King managed to get the better of Magna Grecia on the Rowley Mile and the runner-up boosted the form of that race at Doncaster. The Autumn Stakes winner won easily on his reappearance as the 1/5 favourite and has been supported since Too Darn Hot came out. However, Andre Fabre doesn’t seem convinced his colt will be able to mix it with the big guns in the British Guineas and will likely point Persian King at lesser targets in his homeland.

Calyx produced one of the best performances at Royal Ascot last season, beating Advertise by a length in the Coventry Stakes after ploughing a lone furrow down the slowest section of the track. He too has come in for support since his stablemate was ruled out. Yet, after missing the crucial second-half of his juvenile campaign through injury - during which time Calyx would likely have tested his stamina over longer trips - I'd be surprised if John Gosden didn't train Calyx towards the big sprint races later in the campaign.

Potential Derby Horses

After beginning his time on the track with two narrow defeats, Line Of Duty (20/1 Unibet) scored three impressive victories during the second half of 2018, completing his hat-trick with a superb victory in the Juvenile Turf at the Breeders’ Cup. I have no doubts this improving sort will get a mile-and-a-half and the Derby will be his primary objective. A bold run in the Guineas before that, however, is certainly not out of the question.

Phoenix Of Spain (25/1 Betfair) earned my affections last season with a series of excellent, battling performances. Charlie Hills’ imposing grey cruised to victory in the Acomb Stakes at York, before twice finishing second at Doncaster - losing out to Too Darn Hot in the Champagne Stakes and, narrowly, to Magna Grecia in the Vertem Futurity Trophy. He certainly has the class to contend over a mile, before stepping up in trip later in the campaign.

Kevin Prendergast will have been as shocked as anyone when Madhmoon (25/1 Ladbrokes) suffered defeat in the Irish 2000 Guineas Trial earlier this month, losing out to Never No More by a neck. The Group Two Juvenile Stakes winner was giving weight to a race-fit rival over a seven-furlong trip which is clearly on the short side. The Irish version of the Guineas looks to be his primary objective and a strong performance is expected at the Curragh, ahead of a prospective tilt at the Derby.

Overlooked Outsiders

Advertise (12/1 Unibet) was left trailing three lengths in Too Darn Hot’s wake as the winner cruised to Dewhurst glory, but Martyn Meade would have been extremely pleased with the performance his colt produced. The winner of the Group One Keenland Phoenix Stakes was stepping up to seven furlongs for the first time that day. While he was no match for the winner, Advertise saw out the trip nicely and looks more than capable of challenging the best over a mile.

Jash (20/1 Betfair) entered the Middle Park Stakes on the back of convincing wins at Newmarket and Salisbury. Ten Sovereigns was backed like defeat was out of the question. Yet, Simon Crisford’s charge matched the favourite stride-for-stride through the dip in the Rowley Mile before succumbing to a half-length defeat. Jash dealt with the tricky track comfortably that day and looks capable of stepping up to a mile.

Saaed Bin Suroor and Godolphin looked on as Royal Meeting (25/1 William Hill) claimed narrow victories in both of his juvenile outings. The form-card may say the son of Invincible Spirit won the Criterium International Stakes by just three-quarters of a length, but Royal Meeting cruised to victory in that Group One will plenty left in hand and looks like a horse who will come on a bundle during 2019.

Look At Those Odds

Course-and-distance form is always valuable in this sport, especially on a track as tricky as the Rowley Mile, so Mohawk (66/1 William Hill) shouldn’t be passed over too quickly. Mohawk may have finished last on his final outing of the year in the Dewhurst, but the Ballydoyle resident ran on well to win the Royal Lodge Stakes back in September and no entrant trained by Aidan O’Brien should be underestimated.

Great Scot (66/1 Betfair) may only be rated 110, but Tom Dascombe’s charge secured some excellent results in 2018. After taking Line Of Duty’s scalp in a novice contest over seven furlongs, Great Scot was only beaten a head by Al Hilalee in Deauville and wasn’t beaten far in the Vertem Futurity Trophy, despite being forced wide as Magna Grecia and Phoenix Of Spain came into contact. Great Scot ran another fine race to push Mohaather all the way to the line in the Greenham Stakes and Dascombe's colt would be a worthy entrant in this year's Guineas.

Karl Burke only sent Kadar (66/1 Ladbrokes) out once last season, but that run was an impressive one, as Clifford Lee’s mount scored a comfortable victory over a well-backed John Gosden horse. I would be surprised if Kadar was good enough to compete in a Classic on just his second start, but Burke thinks this colt can go right to the top table and strange things tend to happen in the world of horse racing.

Frankie Dettori canters to the start on Advertise before winning the July Stakes.

2019 2000 Guineas Bet 1

Ten Sovereigns has plenty of improvement left in the tank, but I fear he may be better suited by shorter trips and he could run out of steam during the final furlong. Skardu and Mohaather both impressed during their Trials wins and have to be respected. I, however, would prefer to back a horse who proved they were a Guineas contender during their juvenile season and ADVERTISE offers stacks of each-way value sitting on 12/1!

It’s very hard to knock anything Advertise did during 2018. The Showcasing colt improved with each of his five outings and only John Gosden’s powerful duo, Calyx and Too Darn Hot were able to beat him. Frankie Dettori sat motionless in Advertise’s saddle as he cruised to the July Stakes title here at Newmarket and Meade’s charge proved he was capable of fighting for a win when seeing off So Perfect in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes.

Too Darn Hot was simply too classy in the Dewhurst and a three-length loss did nothing to harm Advertise’s ability. The way Oisin Murphy's mount kept to his task to see off a proven miler in Anthony Van Dyck was extremely encouraging and an extra furlong may even bring about further improvement. Of those sitting in the top half of the betting, Advertise is the one I will be backing.

Jamie Spencer cruises home onboard Phoenix Of Spain (left) in the Acomb Stakes.

2019 2000 Guineas Bet 2

Third is the worst any future Derby horse has finished in the Guineas since Generous came fourth in 1991, so backing a prospective stayer isn’t a bad betting ploy. Line Of Duty and Royal Meeting appeal, but PHOENIX OF SPAIN is a horse I have a lot of belief in and he appeals most in the ante-post betting.

I'm finding it hard to see why there is such a disparity between Phoenix Of Spain and Magna Grecia in the betting. Aidan O’Brien’s charge was given a lovely toe into the Vertem Futurity Trophy by his stablemates, whereas Jamie Spencer had to work hard to get into contention from an unfavourable position on the track. Yet, there was only a head between the two as they crossed the line, a remarkable achievement considering the passage Phoenix Of Spain was forced to tread.

Hills' dazzling grey was the pick of the paddock ahead of the Acomb Stakes and duly swept Watan and Persian Moon aside. Few gave Phoenix Of Spain a chance when he was pitched in with Too Darn Hot in the Champagne Stakes, but the son of Lope De Vega ran another mighty race, finishing closer to the Guineas favourite than anyone else managed throughout the season.

An official rating of 112 is a poor reward for what was a tremendous juvenile campaign. Phoenix Of Spain has had time to fill his sizeable frame over the winter and I’ll be keen to back Charlie Hills’ star, in whichever races he may enter, during 2019.

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2019 2000 Guineas tips – Ante-post preview and two tips for flat racing’s first Classic

Our expert takes an in-depth look through the ante-post betting for the first Classic of the season and highlights two horses for punters to side with at Newmarket on Saturday 4th May.

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